Chair of SCiO, Patrick has worked as a consultant since 1995 with organisations in both the private and public sector, mainly on issues to do with organisational structure and change. He specialises in using systems approaches for analysing and designing organisations and work processes. Patrick is a specialist in working with very large complex organisations including whole sectors. He has developed methodologies for many difficult business prob... Read more
Ash is a software developer and coach who realised early on that most problems in software are organisational, not technical. The first systems approach he discovered was Theory of Constraints, and he has become notorious for drawing its logic diagrams to understand complex problems. Conflict, courage, and theory of constraints Conflict is an inevitable part of living in a complex system. It manifests in forms such as competition between indivi... Read more
Arthur passionately believes in and is massively frustrated by local government in equal measure. His current work is mainly in the voluntary sector, with organisations that realise that the issues they face are related to management not just people. Two quotes (NOT from his own writings, NOT from his book: 'Navigating Complexity: the essential guide to complexity theory in business and management’), which he is currently enjoying are: “The m... Read more
Power+Systems - systems blindness and systems sight Benjamin will present an overview of the Power+Systems approach, developed by Barry Oshry over more than fifty years of experiential work and analysis with people in real life situations. The work helps to create ‘systems sight’ and help people to see the consistent and predictable patterns driven by human responses to the conditions of organisations – and to give people the potential to choose... Read more
Radical change, over short timescales, is needed in the electricity industry to meet consumer and environmental needs. Jane and Roger focus on how market, organization, and technology architectures can be developed using viable systems models and other systems techniques.
Managing high-complexity problems through methodical participation: experiences with the Participatory Innovation Model
Present-day societies are flooded with high-complexity or 'wicked' problems in cities, sustainability, justice, poverty, education and many other fields. They involve large numbers of inter-dependent actors, issues, disciplines and cultures. The usual means applied to face them lack capacity (i.e., requisite variety), because of their reductionism and authoritarianism, and often make things worse. The Participatory Innovation Model builds the re... Read more
Jon and Angela will be presenting their new book, published recently by the Imperial College Press, as part of their new book series in complexity. They will argue that most of the current methodologies and paradigms supporting sustainability programs have limitations there is an urgent need for the application of analytical tools that themselves embody the principles of complexity management. They introduce a theoretical framework based on compl... Read more
Ferality is the bane of management. Ferality reduces agility, destroys customer service, increases business costs and compromises brand value. This unconsciously engineered sleeping partner within our business system, lying dormant for many years, has been awakened by the recent turmoil in our markets causing internal stresses that management have not been able to deal with. The speaker will argue that ferality emerged from the Taylorisation of ... Read more
Understanding organisations using ‘systems-thinking’ is well established, so what prevents us from turning the organisation into a ‘thinking-system’?
What do adaptive lean principles tell us about the way we need to design, build and operate modern businesses? Can we design organizations that are adaptive, innovative and engaging for employees and customers alike? Can we really change work climates in reasonably short time-frames? The organisational climate is the combined perceptions, feelings and behaviours of customers, staff, managers and leaders. Extensive research has proven the link b... Read more
Choice Dynamic International have created a unique approach to assuring the quality of caring and compassion CBAS, adaptable for use by staff in all health and social care settings. The overal aims of CBAS are :- to have confidence that staff are caring and compassionate in their practice to gather information which would inform action to enhance the experience of patients/service users to clarify and strengthen the accountability processes re... Read more
This session will offer a brief introduction into one perspective on formalising “systems thinking” and socio-cybernetics, using three scenarios to illustrate “the problem” as it presents itself; in the education area of government policy, in an evolving hospital system, and operation of a large business. Discussion will focus on the question of how to envision a management (governance, socio-cybernetic) system appropriate to such circumstances. ... Read more
Systemic thinking requires at least 2 types of thinking: open and closed. Open thinking is about the dynamic relationship of the organisation in terms of its environment, and closed thinking about those transactional acts that are worth improving or migrating to partners. Similarly, there are at least 2 kinds of knowledge management practice, one is about supporting the organization’s current strategy, the other is about crafting the strategy th... Read more
Strategy is a much used and abused term in business. Despite a huge literature and industry that has developed around business strategy, it has a dismal track record. This session looks at business strategy from a systems perspective, provides a short critique of traditional approaches, some radical perspectives on what strategy is and some very different models of strategy and its critical dimensions.
This session will look at some of the practical implications of working on a “wicked problem” which involved multi-agency interventions using multiple methodologies. As well as a number of technical issues to do with handling each of these three aspects of a complex intervention, there were also inevitably several softer prac-tice issues: to do with the engagement of cli-ents, the thinking processes of the team and the slipperiness of the problem... Read more
The Organisational Maturity Model (OMM) has been developed by SCiO. It is driven by a questionnaire and is designed to show the structural integrity of your organisation. The OMM allows managers to improve the capability of their organisation to operate more effectively and adapt to change. It does this by providing a framework to develop the structural integrity of the organisation. For an individual having an explanation of the systemic cause... Read more
SCiO has made the strategic decision to create a Professional Development Programme for the Systems Professional. The structure will be a portfolio of development modules built around three themes: Technical Skills, Craft Skills, and Theory. Patrick will lead a practical session on the craft skills of mapping levels of logic. This is a foundational skill with many areas of application, including: analysing organisations using VSM, structuring pr... Read more
While it is inarguable that many complex pro-jects have indeed over-run and under-delivered, it is profoundly untrue that this is an inevitable outcome. Rather, it is simply the case that the prevailing acquisition environment militates towards failure. It is unrealistic to depend on toolsets and skillsets that may be adequate for simple projects but cannot cope with complex-ity. They might work sometimes – but their success has probably owed mor... Read more
Jane has used an approach which attempts to map the various customer needs within complex public sector services for several client organisations. Jane will describe how the Circles of Need® approach has transformed the client understanding to such an extent that radical re-design has been feasible. In addition, she will reflect on the role and power of systems thinking and relate it to the roles in the VSM.
There will be a SCiO sub-group update, with an interactive element, this time instead of a workshop. Dave Mettam will be updating us on the Organisational Maturity Model produced for SCiO by the OMM sub-group.
This session will look at the way that recursive structures create dilemmas for organisations, how these dilemmas translate into ethical problems for the organisations and individuals involved and the role of leadership in resolving these ethical dilemmas. The argument is that this is a normal process for complex organisations and that using a recursive model provides a framework for understanding how ethical problems are formed and can be resol... Read more
In this talk Jane will explain how she sees modelling working within Stafford Beer’s Viable Systems Model – System 4 activity and how System 4 modellers can network across the recursions of a VSM based organisation to offer a service to the whole organisation. She will look at what has been achieved so far and what the next challenges are in building a fully functional S4 modelling service.
Mostly we tend to think about what "is", or what we think we think should be. This carries over into both problem solving and to analysing and designing organisations. Many modelling approaches have this bias towards modelling what is and I'd argue that this is true of both SSM and most approaches to VSM. In some other traditions of looking at the world, there is a deep vein of thinking focusing instead on what is not and seeing this as being eq... Read more
Overview the research approach I adopted as part of a DBA programme Explore the value of ‘Soft Systems Methodology’ in the context of this study Discuss the student dilemma Reinforce the importance of good supervision to academic rigour
Practitioner stories around the Conant- Ashby Theorem “Modelling is not an option, its mandatory” - but how do you do that?
Denis Adams will tell practitioner stories which illustrate some under-utilised ideas which though simple, usually have profound impacts on models-in-use and consequential actions. The emerging principles will raise questions about using many of the common tools of cybernetics systems thinking in forensic systemic exploration, for example: Why the ‘activity monitoring information to control action’ in SSM conceptual modelling could transform the... Read more